Thursday, April 05, 2007

Pray for Peace

Four years ago the war in Iraq began. I remember Easter that year because I became outraged when I went to my local drugstore and discovered pre-packaged Easter baskets for children with plastic machine guns, military helmets and toy grenades. I also remember that our current administration did a masterful job of making people feel unpatriotic if they prayed for Peace on Easter. I know we are supposed to be forgiving and turn the other cheek and all of that but making folks believe they are not supporting the troops if they pray for peace is almost impossible for me to forgive.

Several of my friends have asked me about my son's childhood buddy, Bobby. I have written about him a few times on this blog. I do not really know how to express what I am feeling about what happened to him. I think about him every single day. Bobby joined the Marines after 9/11 when he was a senior in high school. This was five years ago. Not long after, he was sent to Iraq at age 18. He came home a hero and was sent to Iraq a second time and participated in the bloody violent combat in Fallujah. We have not been told by our government all that went on there because my guess is that it was horrible and shocking. Bobby's Mom never realized what happened to her child in the battles he participated in. His friends were blown up beside him.

Bobby came home a second time with just a minor scar above his eyebrow. His Mom is only now learning the extent of the damage that occurred inside his head and heart. Bobby was sent back to Iraq a third time. Other friends were blown to pieces as he and his fellow Marines faced the daily horror of IED's. As a result, Bobby was implicated along with seven others in the murder of an Iraqi civilian. Now at 22, Bobby has been sentenced to eight years in prison. With good behavior and with credit for time served, this may eventually be reduced to five years.

I still have this vision in my head of Bobby cuddling a baby Apolo puppy in our back yard five years ago. He was Lucas' friend from the time he was five years old. He is a good kid and a bright kid and terrible things happened to him. Bobby is not evil and this is where I get all tangled up and start to cry. My priest has tried to explain to me the sins of the whole world and why and how Jesus was crucified for all of this. Bobby is being punished not only for his sins but the sins of others and the evil that is manifested in war.

When we traveled to Charlotte, we noticed many young kids in fatigues at the airport and on the airplanes. I overheard one young man say he was being sent to Iraq for time number two. The dumpy restaurant where we ate the last night in Charlotte, which was next to our kind of icky motel, had a busload of kids come in as we were about to leave. A couple of them had on fatigues and were in charge of the group. They asked for seating and explained they had meal vouchers. These "children"---and I say children because they all looked younger than my daughter--were wide eyed and solemn. Our conclusion was that they were off to boot camp or whatever the first entry step is into the military. They all looked so young and baby-faced and innocent.

We paid our bill. Outside, as we walked across the parking lot to the motel, I couldn't take it anymore. The madness of it all overwhelmed me and the tears flowed. My husband did not have dry eyes either. All of those children have mothers and fathers and siblings and grandparents who love them. Bobby was like that once, too. He was innocent. This Easter I am praying for Bobby and I am praying for all of the kids we encountered on our trip to Charlotte. And when I say, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," I will be asking for forgiveness of the sins of the world.

I will pray for Peace.